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Physical activity, obesity, and educational attainment in 50- to 70-year-old adults

Publication Date
  • Social Sciences
  • Sociology
  • Anthropology
  • Political Science
  • Sozialwissenschaften
  • Soziologie
  • Politikwissenschaft
  • Epidemiology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Telephone Interview
  • Physical Activity
  • Obesity
  • Medical Sociology
  • Health Policy
  • Medizinsoziologie
  • Gesundheitspolitik
  • Biology
  • Education
  • Medicine


Aim: The purpose of the study is to investigate, in subpopulations with varying levels of education, firstly, the extent to which older adults with an otherwise sedentary lifestyle perform simple everyday physical activities such as cycling for transport or taking a walk, and the extent to which older adults perform everyday physical activities in addition to exercise; and secondly, to explore correlations between physical activity and obesity. Methods: The study is based on a representative, Baden-Württemberg State Foundation-funded study in 50- to 70-year-old residents of Baden-Württemberg (n = 2,002). Results: Subjects who say they ride a bike for transport or take a walk are significantly more likely to exercise than subjects who do not walk or cycle regularly. This holds even after controlling for sociodemographic and lifestyle-relevant variables. However, the correlation between walking and exercise, and the positive correlation between walking and obesity, is retained only for subjects with a low level of education. Both for subjects with a low level of education and for subjects with a high level of education, multivariate analysis discloses a negative correlation between regular cycling and obesity. Conclusions: People who do not exercise regularly are also less active on a day-to-day basis and are less likely to take a walk or ride a bike for transport. Given the health-preserving effects attributed to leisure-time physical activity from a biological and medical point of view, it is particularly important to encourage older adults and disadvantaged sectors of the population to be more physically active.

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